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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 00:14 GMT 01:14 UK
UK backs end to Iraq sanctions
The British plan envisages a strict inspection regime
The UK is putting forward new proposals to end the United Nations sanctions on Iraq, imposed following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In a significant turnaround aimed at breaking the impasse over Iraq, a draft British resolution at the UN Security Council sets out a timetable for withdrawing the sanctions, subject to Baghdad answering some questions about its weapons programme. It also calls for strict controls to prevent Iraq acquiring new weapons of mass destruction. The British change of position means that only the US is now completely opposed to lifting sanctions. France and Russia have long supported an early suspension of sanctions. However, a US official said the British proposal, which is co-sponsored by the Netherlands, is "the appropriate draft around which the Security Council can begin discussion". The Security Council's five permanent members - the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia - are scheduled to meet on Wednesday, and the full Security Council would be presented with the proposal before the end of the week.
Many at the UN see progress on the sanctions issue as a way of getting UN weapons insepctors back into Baghdad. Unscom personnel left six months ago, shortly before US and British airstrikes were launched to punish Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's government for failing to cooperate with inspectors. The British draft says sanctions would only be suspended for 120 days after Iraq completes a set of "key remaining tasks" regarding the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. After another four months, the chairman of the new Commission on Inspection and Monitoring and the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency would report to the council on whether Iraq had answered the disarmament tasks set out by inspectors. The suspension would then be subject to renewal every 120 days, if Iraq performed satisfactorily.
A top UN humanitarian aide will arrive in Baghdad on Wednesday to discuss the oil-for-food deal. Benon Sevan, who runs the UN programme, will meet senior Iraqi government officials.
Under the deal, which was extended in May for another six months, Iraq can sell $5.26 bn worth of oil over six months to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian needs for its people.
Britain: Suspend Iraq's Sanctions
By Nicole Winfield,Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, June 15, 1999; 6:10 p.m. EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- In a significant turnaround aimed at breaking the impasse over Iraq, Britain is now recommending that the Security Council suspend sanctions against Iraq -- but only after Baghdad answers the remaining questions about its banned weapons programs. The new British position leaves the United States alone among permanent members of the Security Council in opposing the suspension or lifting of sanctions. Britain is conditioning the suspension on the creation of strict financial controls designed to prevent Iraq from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, according to a draft resolution circulated Tuesday.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington thinks the British draft, cosponsored by the Netherlands, is ``the appropriate draft around which the council can begin discussion.'' But the official cautioned that there were still several issues that needed to be worked out.
Russia, China and France, Iraq's allies on the council, have also proposed that sanctions be suspended, but haven't placed the same tough restrictions as the British draft does. Western diplomats note that the Russian, French and Chinese draft resolution doesn't require as much Iraqi compliance with inspectors or carry sufficient controls on Baghdad investing in its banned weapons programs.
The British draft says sanctions would only be suspended for 120 days after Iraq completes a set of ``key remaining tasks'' regarding the destruction of its weapons of mass destruction. Inspectors from a commission, which would replace the U.N. Special Commission but draw heavily from its staff and resources, would prepare a list of those tasks 90 days after resuming inspections. After another four months, the chairman of the Commission on Inspection and Monitoring and the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency would report to the council on whether Iraq had answered the disarmament tasks. If Iraq has cooperated fully, and if financial controls were established, the council would suspend sanctions for 120 days. It would continue the suspension every 120 days unless inspectors report Iraq is not cooperating. As a preliminary inducement to Iraq, Britain proposes the council consider allowing foreign investment in Iraq four months after inspectors return.
The Security Council's five permanent members postponed a meeting Wednesday until Thursday. Formal introduction of the resolution to the full 15-member council is expected Thursday or Friday.
Inspections ground to a halt in mid-December, when the United States and Britain launched airstrikes to punish Iraq for what they said was its failure to cooperate with weapons inspectors. Iraq has said inspectors from the Special Commission, known as UNSCOM, cannot return and has demanded sanctions be lifted entirely. Baghdad claims it is already completely disarmed. The Security Council has been trying to come up with a new policy that would persuade Iraq to allow weapons oversight to resume while giving its people some relief from sanctions, which were imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.
UN OKs Food Distribution in Iraq
Monday, June 14, 1999; 11:13 p.m. EDT
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan has approved Iraq's six-month plan to distribute goods from the U.N. oil-for-food program, but stressed that food and medicine remain a priority for Baghdad. Iraq submitted the distribution proposal last week, suggesting that just over $3 billion from U.N.-supervised oil exports be used to buy food, medicine and other humanitarian supplies, including $300 million for oil industry spare parts.
Iraq has been barred from selling its oil on the open market since the Security Council imposed an oil embargo following its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The Security Council launched the oil-for-food program in 1996 to try to care for Iraqis suffering under the sanctions. Baghdad is allowed to export $5.26 billion in oil over six months, but has only managed to export around $3 billion over the past year because of low oil prices and production limits. Iraq is also allowed to use funds from oil sales to rebuild its infrastructure, as well as use $300 million over six months to buy oil industry spare parts.
A group of oil experts has been in Iraq for the past week as part of the preparations for a new report due later this month to the Security Council on the requirements of rebuilding the oil industry, which was decimated by the Gulf War and nearly nine years of sanctions.
Bomb hits Mujahideen
By Patrick Cockburn
A second car bomb has exploded in Baghdad, wounding several people. The blast, on Monday evening, was close to the headquarters of the Mujahideen Khalq, the Iraqi-backed Iranian resistance movement.
Six members of the Mujahideen were killed in the Iraqi capital last week, with a passer-by, when a pick-up truck packed with explosives blew up beside the bus in which they were travelling. Iraq and the Mujahideen, which has been based in Iraq since 1983, blamed Iran for the attack.
Last week Iran fired four ground-to-ground missiles at a Mujahideen base north-east of Baghdad. Iranian agents have previously killed Mujahideen in Iraq, but may be increasing their attacks after the assasination by the Mujahideen of Lieutenant-General Ali Sayyad Shirazi, the Iranian deputy joint chief of staff, in Tehran in April. The Mujahideen has also been accused of helping to suppress dissent in Iraq.
Iraq builds new oil refinery
Iraqi dailies published on Monday reported that a new Iraqi refinery with a
refining capacity of 10,000 barrels per day is being built in the southern part
of the country.
Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 03:33 GMT 04:33 UK
Iraqi opposition talks in Washington
The United States is bringing together the two main Iraqi Kurdish parties in Washington today Wednesday, to try to et them to end their bitter rivalries. The Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan agreed in Washington last September to put aside their differences and work towards regional elections. But the two sides have made little progress towards implementing the agreement and have admitted that the regional elections, proposed for next month, will have to be postponed. A BBC regional correspondent says the US is keen to unite various Iraqi opposition factions against President Saddam Hussein. She says Baghdad is strongly opposed to American intervention into what it regards as its internal affairs.